Rules of origin (RoO) are the criteria needed to determine the national source of a product. Their importance is derived from the fact that duties and restrictions in several cases depend on the source of imports. Rules of origin determine where goods originate, i.e. not where they have been shipped from, but where they have been produced or manufactured. As such, the ‘origin’ is the 'economic nationality' of goods traded. Alongside tariff classification and value, the origin of a good is a determining factor based on which the customs tariff treatment is applied.
There is wide variation between countries and in different trade agreements in the practice of determining RoO. For customs matters, there is a distinction between non-preferential and preferential rules of origin. Preferential origin is related to special arrangements and trade agreements that grant members access to domestic markets at preferential tariff rates. Where all the requirements are met, goods with preferential origin are eligible to be imported with lower duty rates or at zero rate, depending on the preferential tariff treatment provided for.
To obtain an assessment on the origin of goods prior to an import or export transaction, traders can apply for an advance ruling on origin. Customs will then issue a decision on the origin of the goods that remains valid for 12 months from the date of issuance. More information on applying for an advance decision is available here.
Concerning imports, EAC and COMESA Rules of Origin are applied to products imported into Kenya to distinguish between goods that were produced within the EAC and COMESA Member States and entitled to preferential tariff treatment and those that are considered to have been produced outside the EAC or COMESA regions that attract full import duties. To learn more about the EAC and COMESA rules of origin, refer to the links listed below:
- The East Africa Community Customs Union (Rules of Origin) Rules, 2015
- Procedures Manual on the Implementation of the Protocol on the Rules of Origin for Products to be traded between the Member States of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
Concerning exports, different sets of rules of origin are applied to export products originating in Kenya. When an export good meets all the criteria of a set of rules of origin, a certificate of origin can be issued for the goods and preferential terms will apply. To date, the procedures of obtaining a number of different certificates of origin for export products have been documented and uploaded to the InfoTradeKE Portal. These procedures include in the “Laws” section the legal documents relating to the application of the respective Rules of Origin. The procedures are listed below.
To learn more about Rules of Origin and find out which specific Trade Agreements your exports can benefit from, visit the Rules of Origin Facilitator.